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Archive for August, 2010

HoF 2010: Malone, Pippen, Johnson Among Biggest Winners Ever

13th August 2010

When Scottie Pippen, Dennis Johnson, Karl Malone, & Gus Johnson get enshrined into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame this evening, it will represent not only the culmination of a lifetime's hard work and dedication by four great players -- it will also establish the greatest collection of winners to ever enter the HoF at once.

Or at least, according to my calculations it will. Recall that in posts like this, I estimated the W-L record of a player's team when he played thusly:

"...take the team's winning percentage in all games ... and multiply by the player's games played for wins, then subtract that from his games for losses."

It's a kludge, I admit, but in the absence of pre-1991 playoff gamelogs, it's the best we can do -- and it's not too inaccurate for such a simple solution. Anyway, according to that method (and combining regular-season + postseason wins), Malone, Pippen, & D.J. are all among the 20 winningest NBA players to ever lace up a pair of sneakers:

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Posted in Analysis, Hall of Fame, History | 30 Comments »

Introducing College Football at

11th August 2010

I am pleased to announce the launch of College Football at, the latest addition to the Sports Reference family of web sites. We have had plans to launch a college football site for quite some time, but for one reason or another we always ran into roadblocks, most of them data-related. However, we now have a college football database that we believe to be second-to-none. Let me tell you a little bit about what the site does (and does not) have:

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Posted in Announcements | Comments Off on Introducing College Football at

Most Personnel Turnover Between Seasons

11th August 2010

Today I thought we'd briefly put aside the top college programs series and take a look at the NBA teams that had the most personnel turnover from one season to the next. As we all know, the 2010-11 Miami Heat will probably return less than half of their minutes from a year ago, with the top newcomers by playing time expected to be LeBron James & Chris Bosh. How does this stack up against teams that had a lot of roster turnover in the past? Here are the (non-expansion) clubs since 1965 who gave the smallest % of their minutes to players who had been on the roster the previous season:

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Posted in Analysis, History | 5 Comments »

Layups: Aaron Gleeman’s SABR 40 Recap

10th August 2010

Warning, non-basketball-related post...

One of the reasons I've done barely any blogging since last Thursday is that I attended the 40th annual Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) convention in Atlanta over the weekend (since I already live about 15-20 minutes away from the proceedings, it wouldn't have made sense not to go). I had a good time and met a lot of fine people whose names I've known for years and never thought I'd get a chance to meet (I almost went over and talked to Bill James. For real.), so I'd like to take the chance to thank everybody for that opportunity. Aaron Gleeman was one of those people, so I also wanted to link to his recap of the conference, in case anyone else wants to know what we were up to.

We now return you to your regularly-scheduled basketball programming. Well, maybe Thursday, at least -- Sports-Reference is going to make a big announcement any day now, so stay tuned.

Posted in Just For Fun, Layups, Non-Basketball | 13 Comments »

Layups: New Thoughts on Positional Designations

6th August 2010

Drew Cannon wrote a very interesting post for Basketball Prospectus on Monday, regarding player positions. His theory is that coaches should break positions down offensively and defensively, since the former deals with certain specific skillsets (scoring, passing, ballhandling, & rebounding) while the latter is concerned with what level of opposing height and speed a player can defend. Instead of worrying about whether a scorer is in the body of someone who can defend a SF or a PG, Cannon contends (and I'm inclined to agree) that as long as you fill all of the necessary roles on both sides of the ball, it doesn't matter who does what job and whether their defensive position matches up with the traditional offensive role of that slot. Anyway, it's a really good read, so check it out and let me know what you think about traditional positions vs. Cannon's idea.

Posted in Insane ideas, Layups, No Math Required | 22 Comments »

CBB: The Top 31 College Basketball Programs of the Last 31 Years (Part II)

5th August 2010

See also: Part I

Note: This post was originally published at College Basketball at Sports-Reference, S-R's new College Hoops site, so when you're done reading, go over and check it out!

25. Ohio State Buckeyes (+12.29 SRS)

Record: 522-337
Prominent Coaches: Eldon Miller, Jim O'Brien, Thad Matta
Best NCAA Finish: Lost National Final (2007)

Columbus, OH will always be a football town first and foremost, but the Bucks' basketball team has also been deceptively competitive over the past 31 years. Under Eldon Miller & future Maryland coach Gary Williams in the 1980s, Ohio St. was frequently among the top 30 teams in the country, though they could never quite recapture the form of their 1980 team (Herb Williams, Kelvin Ransey, & Clark Kellogg led OSU to the Regional Semis & the 4th-best SRS in the country). That changed during the early years of Randy Ayers' tenure, when they went 53-10 in '91 + '92 en route to 2 Big Ten crowns and a Final Four near-miss in 1992. But after 1992 UPI POY Jim Jackson left school, OSU slipped badly, bottoming out at 6-22 in 1995. Ayers was then replaced by Jim O'Brien, who resuscitated the program and took them to a Final Four in just his 2nd year at the helm. From '99-02, O'Brien's Buckeyes had their most successful 4-year run since the early 1960s, although revelations about recruiting misdeeds cost him his job and forced the Buckeyes to vacate more than 3 years worth of results. Luckily, though, former Xavier coach Thad Matta was hired to pick up the pieces and he has simply led OSU to the best 6-year run in their history, solidifying their place on this list with 4 NCAA berths in the last 5 years (including a Championship Game appearance in '07).

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Posted in Analysis, History, NCAA, SRS | 12 Comments »

R.I.P. Lorenzen Wright

4th August 2010

We've all heard about Lorenzen Wright's tragic death by now, and even worse the fact that investigators suspect foul play. By all accounts, Wright was a great guy, one of those pro athletes who truly cared about the fans and the city he played in. But I've been struggling to eulogize his career, because at the NBA level it didn't quite live up to expectations -- as the #7 pick in the '96 draft, Wright turned out to be an average player at best, eventually settling into a part-time starter/backup role for most of his career. That said, though, Wright was unquestionably a good defender, ranking 12th in defensive rating among qualified power forwards during his stint in Memphis:

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Posted in General | 1 Comment »

Layups: Chuck Klosterman/Bill Simmons Podcast on LeBron

3rd August 2010

I'll admit I've been critical of Bill Simmons' initial take on the LeBron "Decision", but I criticize because I care: whether I agree or disagree, I'm a big fan of Bill's work (he certainly gives me a lot of topics to work with), and I especially love it when he has author/pop-culture guru Chuck Klosterman on the B.S. Report because those two seem to bring out the best in each other. Yesterday, he and Chuck had an extremely thought-provoking conversation on the subject of LeBron, raising a number of great questions (one being, if LeBron doesn't care about his legacy, does that make him more or less of an "Alpha Male"?). I strongly recommend that everyone check the discussion out -- if nothing else, it will give you food for thought.

Posted in Layups | 18 Comments »

CBB: The Top 31 College Basketball Programs of the Last 31 Years (Part I)

3rd August 2010

Note: This post was originally published at College Basketball at Sports-Reference, S-R's new College Hoops site, so when you're done reading, go over and check it out!

With the addition of 2010 stats to the site about a month ago, CBB at SR now has game-by-game results for each of the past 31 seasons (1980-2010). This means that we can calculate our signature team power-ranking statistic -- the Simple Rating System (SRS) -- for every team in that span, estimating a team's "true" strength by adjusting point differential for strength of schedule. Armed with those ratings, I went back and found the average SRS for each program over the past 31 seasons; this post is the first in a ranking of the top 31 programs by that average. The only rule for qualification: teams who didn't play all 31 seasons in D-IA were not eligible (sorry, Miami, Missouri St., & Tulane). Other than that, it's all about having the highest average SRS since 1980. To the rankings...

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Posted in Analysis, History, NCAA, SRS | 8 Comments »

YouTube Finds: Bill Walton vs. Memphis State, 1973 NCAA Championship Game

2nd August 2010

Before Bill Walton was leading the Blazers to a championship, bringing a spark off the bench for the Celtics, and saying hilariously weird things on television, he was one of the best players in college basketball history, helping UCLA survive the loss of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar without missing a beat. And Big Red was perhaps at his very finest in the 1973 National Championship Game against Larry Kenon and Memphis State, pouring in 44 points (on 21-22 shooting) and grabbing 13 boards en route to the Bruins' 87-66 victory. Thanks to the wonders of YouTube, here's Walton's performance, what some consider to be the best ever by a college player:

Posted in Just For Fun, Layups, NCAA, YouTube Finds | 10 Comments »